Emily Newberry was born a transgender girl in the midst of World War II and grew up in conservative upstate New York fearful of even acknowledging this truth to herself. She experienced intersectional forms of discrimination and emotional and physical abuse as a child and youth and survived a suicide attempt.
She reacted to this by becoming a fighter for justice, beginning by attending the March on Washington in 1963, and then opposing the War in Vietnam and fighting for the rights of workers, especially those who faced racial discrimination. She also lived with depression that was a result of childhood trauma and ongoing pain of staying hidden as transgender woman. Emily went into the machine shops where she worked for 30 years, speaking out on social and political issues. She then went back to graduate school to become a mediator, facilitator and organizational development consultant.
When she came out as a transgender woman in 2007-2008, she experienced discrimination professionally. Emily had to scramble to find ways to express her skills and to find her way back into the profession. Among other things she worked for 10 years to end discrimination for transgender people through speaking, writing and poetry performance. This included her first book Butterfly A Rose published by One Spirit Press. As part of this work Emily played a role, along with many others, to convince the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to stop denying payment for gender confirming surgery, something that was vital especially for Black, Indigenous and other People of Color.
Over the years Emily underwent spiritual growth and change. One result was a commitment she made to assume that people mean well and are trying to do their best given their circumstances even if, from her point of view, they are doing harmful things. This played a role in her success with CMS and led to her getting hired to bring the voice of the patient into improving health care delivery where she works today. Her latest book, Turning Inside Out, uses her life story to illustrate her own learnings and invite others into a conversation about how to be a part of positive change.
Her first book, Butterfly A Rose, A Journey Through Transition, was published by Onespirit Press in fall 2010, and her second, a chapbook in collaboration with artist Adelaide Beeman-White in 2012. This chapbook was made into a journal used in art therapy for senior citizens, and Emily created a second journal, Story Catcher, in collaboration with photographer Ellen Reardon, to be used in those workshops. The artist book Water by Portland artist Shu-Ju Wang featured Emilys poetry and came out in May 2014. It is exhibited in libraries and museums around the country, including her alma mater, Dickinson College. Her poetry and short stories have appeared in Ascent Magazine online, VoiceCatcher, Kind of A Hurricane Press, Chaos Poetry Review, Crosswinds Poetry, Persimmon Tree, Unscooped Bagel and Synesthesia Journals and one poem received an honorable mention in the 2013 Walt Whitman 150 contest. In 2014 her poem Signs was nominated for a Pushcart Prize.